Salukis return to road for weekend series at Jacksonville State

    Matt Jones leads the Salukis with a .412 batting average.

    Matt Jones leads the Salukis with a .412 batting average.
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    Feb. 21, 2013

    Southern Illinois (2-2, 0-0 MVC) at Jacksonville State (2-3, 0-0 OVC)
     Date Friday, Feb. 22-Sunday, Feb. 24
     Time Fri. - 3 p.m., Sat. - 1 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m.
     Location Jacksonville, Ala. - Abbott Field
    Probables Fri. - RHP Sam Coonrod (0-0, 7.20 ERA) vs. LHP Adam Polk (0-1, 0.00 ERA)
    Sat. - LHP Cody Forsythe (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Kurt Lipscomb (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
    Sun. - LHP Derek Fogel (0-1, 5.40) vs. Casey Antley (1-0, 1.04 ERA) 
     Radio None
     Game Notes Southern Illinois
     Live Stats Friday | Saturday | Sunday
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball

    JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - The Southern Illinois baseball team will visit Jacksonville State for a three-game nonconference series. Following an 8-4 victory at UT Martin on Tueday, the Salukis will look to string together their first winning streak of the season. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m.

    FRIDAY’S STARTER Sophomore Sam Coonrod will make his second consecutive Friday start. It will be his 20th appearance and 12th start with the Salukis. On Opening Day at UAB last week, Coonrod took a no-decision. He allowed four runs off six hits and matched a career high with seven strikeouts in five innings of work. All four of those runs came in the third inning.

    JACKSONVILLE STATE SERIES NOTES Jacksonville State leads the all-time series, 6-5. The two teams met for the first time in 2009 and have faced each other annually since then. In 2012, SIU swept a three-game series from the Gamecocks at Abe Martin Field. The final two games were played as a Saturday doubleheader. In the twinbill, SIU outscored JSU 23-10. Southern is 3-2 at home against the Gamecocks and 2-4 at Jacksonville State. That includes a JSU sweep in SIU’s last trip to Jacksonville, Ala.

    SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS Jacksonville State was picked to finish third out of 11 teams in the preseason Ohio Valley Conference poll. After being swept in a three-game series at Kennesaw State to open the season last weekend, the Gamecocks rebounded to defeat intrastate rival UAB on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday. Through five games, JSU is hitting just .226 but has posted a respectable 3.64 team ERA. Offensively, junior outfielder Griff Gordon leads the team with a .353 average and a pair of triples while junior third baseman Eddie Mora-Loera has driven in a team-leading seven runs.

    OFFENSIVE AWAKENING After managing just six runs off 19 hits and a .196 batting average in the season’s opening series, Southern Illinois pounded out eight runs off 15 hits on Tuesday. Ryan Casillas, Cody Daily, Luke Mottashed and Jake Welch each recorded a multi-hit game in the effort. The offensive surge upped SIU’s team batting average to .250 for the season.

    MOTTASHED MASHING Catcher Luke Mottashed had a career day on Tuesday at UT Martin. He matched his career high with four hits, including a double. Mottashed also drove in a run in each of his first three at-bats and finished with a career-high four RBI. His performance in Tuesday’s game raised the second-year Saluki’s career batting average from .280 to .327.

    GIMME FIVE In each of the first four games of the season, SIU’s starting pitcher has lasted exactly five innings. However, Bryce Sablotny is the only starter to record a win. Sam Coonrod and Cody Forsythe both exited after the fifth inning of a tied ballgame last weekend.

    SATURDAY, SUNDAY STARTERS Lefty Cody Forsythe will move into a seventh place tie on SIU’s all-time list on Saturday by making his 36th career start with the Salukis. In his season debut last Saturday at UAB, he held the Blazers to six hits in five shutout innings. However, the Dawgs failed to provide any run support in a 1-0 loss. In the game, he also became just the 10th Saluki to surpass 250 innings for his career. On Sunday, left-hander Derek Fogel will make his second start with the Salukis. He allowed three runs off five hits in five innings of work in his SIU debut last Sunday. After allowing a pair of runs in the third inning and a leadoff home run in the fourth, he shut down the Blazers for the next six outs but took the loss in a 3-1 defeat.

    HITTING STREAK Dating back to last spring, Jake Welch has hit safely in a career-best 11 consecutive games. He and Matt Jones are the only two Salukis to record a hit in each of the first four games of this season.

    OVC OPPONENTS After defeating UT Martin on Tuesday, SIU remains in the midst of a stretch of five consecutive games against opponents from the Ohio Valley Conference. Southern Illinois will face eight of the 11 teams from the OVC this season. On Tuesday, Feb. 26 SIU will travel to Austin Peay for a nonconference game.

    SWEET RELIEF Through the first four games of the season, SIU has used seven relief pitchers, and they have combined for a 1.29 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 14 innings of work. The bullpen has held opponents to a .156 batting average. Southern’s pen began the season with 13 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The streak ended with a pair of meaningless ninth inning runs in SIU’s 8-4 victory on Tuesday at UT Martin.

    DEFENSIVE NOTES Southern Illinois’ defense is vastly improved from a season ago. Through four games, SIU has committed three errors compared to the nine errors Southern committed in its first four games of 2012. The team’s .980 fielding percentage is third in the Missouri Valley Conference. In addition, the Salukis have turned six double plays this season, which leads the MVC, and thrown out two of four potential base stealers.